The last couple of years have been tough on cask beer, both for producers and the pubs that sell it. A combination of government guidelines and hesitation among the public at returning to venues and public spaces led to nationwide decline in the category, as consumers opted to stay at home and drink small pack beer instead.
With pubs reopening and a return to normal hopefully not too far on the horizon, things are starting to look up for cask. Legendary Derbyshire brewery Thornbridge certainly think so, unveiling their plans for a cask Year of Beer for 2022.
Started in 2017, Year of Beer is a project where Thornbridge announces a new draught beer for every month of the year. Originally envisioned as a way to give trade customers and consumers the means to plan ahead months in advance, it quickly evolved into something more ambitious: a showcase of the range of Thornbridge’s output, and an opportunity for their Brewing team to explore and innovate with different styles.
The rise of Covid-19 and national lockdowns in the UK seriously affected Thornbridge’s huge plans for their 15th Anniversary in 2020, where they had planned a year of highly innovative keg beer and cask collaborations with the best and brightest of British brewing. The continued stresses of the pandemic prevented a Year of Beer announcement for 2021, so 2022 is a triumphant return to form for a brewery that has always pioneered craft and cask beer.
We’ve already seen Hacksaw, an East Coast IPA with all the haziness and tropical fruit flavours that entails, and you might have had a chance to try the return of Twin Peaks, an Anglo American pale ale that when it was first released in 2013, was California brewing legend Sierra Nevada’s first UK collaboration. The rest of the year promises to go from strength to strength, with Thornbridge putting out everything from a Golden Mild to a Pina Colada pale, by way of returning cult favourite ice cream porter Salted Caramel Lucaria. Perhaps most excitingly, Thornbridge has teamed with rising star of Mexican Brewing, Cervecera Macaria, to create Carlotta, a Mole inspired Chili Chocolate Mexican Stout, in time for Cinco de Mayo. This is a truly excellent year for drinkers of cask beer.
Simon Webster, Chief Executive Officer of Thornbridge Brewery says: “Cask beer has always been in our DNA, from our very earliest days brewing at the hall to today. The last couple of years have unfortunately required us to make less of it than we’d have liked, but that’s why we’re all the more excited to get it into people’s hands this year. We’re so lucky to have such a talented team of brewers working for us and such an enthusiastic audience ready to sample their creations, and hopefully this Year of Beer will do them all proud.”
But cask is not all in Thornbridge’s future. Their Market Leading craft beer subscription Thornbridge Beer Club continues to grow at a steady rate, augmenting the online and direct sale aspects of their business that saw an explosion during lockdown. This is boosted by their growing output of packaged beer, including brand new projects and series that have been gaining momentum already. Combine that with the recently launched Thornbridge Experience at their taproom and brewery in Bakewell, and it looks like this legendary brewery has much more to give in 2022.